2006_05_fireaerial.jpg

Firefighters are still working to put out the huge ten-alarm Brooklyn warehouse fire that started yesterday at 5:30AM. Fifteen buildings the Greenpoint Terminal Market were hit by the fire. The Fire Department used eight to nine million gallons of water during their work, and since there was no "immediate threat to life," the fire became a sort of clinic for the department to "plan strategy," according to the NY Times; the FDNY also used the "surround and down" tactic, with tower ladders on the streets and fireboats in the water. Of course, the fire's scale drew comparisons to September 11, especially with the burnt, acrid smell creeping across the Brooklyn and the rest of the city. Fourteen firefighters suffered minor injuries, with no civilians injured.

As the smoke starts clearing, there are just more questions. Fire Department Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta called the fire "suspicious," while Mayor Bloomberg said that it did seem suspicious but that they wouldn't "prejudge" the situation. However, that's not stopping anyone else. As mentioned in our post yesterday, the land is owned by developer Joshua Guttman, who wanted to turn the area into a commercial-and-residential area (see plans here at designers Perkins Eastman). However, since one of Guttman's properties in Dumbo burned down "suspiciously" two years ago (though Guttman was cleared and cooperative), everyone else is pretty suspicious. And there are reports that accelerant was found in five places. The Post says some witnesses saw a man pouring "flammable motor oil" into an elevator shaft of one of the buildings, later chasing the man, and telling authorities...only to see someone calling himself "Guttman" telling the police that it wasn't his guy. The lawyer for Guttman told the press, "It's the last thing in the world we need right now. He's a very substantial guy. If someone set fire to it, it could have been squatters, it could have been anybody. How in the hell can you watch 21 acres of industrial property?" Testy but true - reports say that a watchman left before the fire started.

Anyway, sepculation is that Guttman would save money on demolition with a fire, but Gothamist would have to imagine that the headache of an FDNY investigation would be less than ideal. The American Manufacturing Company which made rope used to be housed in the warehouses; according to the Times, a witness says there had been coils and coils of rope there - which would have helped the fire spread quickly. And the American Playground Park, named after AMC, is nearby.

2006_05_fire2.jpg

This is the biggest fire since the 1995 St. George Hotel fire in Brooklyn Heights; FD New York has a comphrehensive article about that fire. FD New York has also been critical in understanding what a 10 alarm fire means. The actual FDNY has pictures of the fire on its site and they are pretty amazing - we wonder if a firefighter took them. And the Flickr photographs have been incredible - you can see many of them with tags like greenpointterminalmarket, greenpointterminalwarehouse, and greenpointfire.

UPDATE: The assistant fire chief says that the fire is finally control, but they will continue to extinguish "deep pockets of fire" through the night. The length of the fire so far? One day, 11 hours and 36 minutes (the first reports were around 5:30AM yesterday).

Top photograph from the Matt Lennihan for the AP; bottom photograph from Michael G. Chan at daily snapshots, who also has pictures of the fire in its second day